Connecting data for game-changing insights at Raleigh Country Club.

TO THE CASUAL OBSERVER, the greens and fairways of Raleigh Country Club,Raleigh NC appear to be a utopian landscape expertly sculpted by knowing hands. One imagines every corner of the course is generously and thoroughly fussed over for hours on end, and that it no doubt guzzles unspeakable resources and costs a fortune to maintain.

Often overlooked, however, is the whirr of spinning discs atop the bird-house on the No. 18 fairway and the tiny sets of holes on each green.

It’s easy to glance past a nearby sprinkler head that covers an exact radius for exactly five and a half minutes — one that will administer no water at all tomorrow.

The reality is that taming this demanding 200-acre course requires a sophisticated approach, precise applications, and next-level data analysis that McConnell Golf is helping to pioneer.

OnLink Providing Valuable Results for Experienced Superintendent at Raleigh Country Club

During Raleigh Country Club Superintendent Billy Cole’s 30 years in the industry, he’s watched technology touch nearly every aspect of his work. “From equipment to communication, technology has made every job a little bit easier,”he says. Until recently however, these technologies have lived in separate systems. From soil sensors to weather programs to managing labor, data programs and technologies that provide valuable insights to managing a golf course efficiently have previously not communicated together in one place.

Enter OnLink at Raleigh Country Club, a flagship club for McConnell Golf’s thirteen courses located in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. This cloud-based golf course operating platform collects data from Cole’s instruments to provide analytics across all sources. Beyond time savings,OnLink measures different variables against each other and predicts outcomeswith more accuracy.

 “I’ve been doing this long enough that I could tell you how the weather will impact the course pretty well,” Cole ex- plains. “But this gives me the ability to precisely understand why we’re seeing certain things. We’ve had more consistent green speeds, for example, since using OnLink because we can monitor if a particular green needs to be rolled twice in order to play consistently with others.” 

The predictive nature of the platform doesn’t only prompt reactive efforts –it’s also a means for conservation. As Cole reports,

“Now I can see where we’ve over-corrected in the past. Identifying thresholds for ideal outcomes and eliminating excess has been just as valuable to us as the ability to understand trends.”  

The platform has environmental implications as well:

 “OnLink provides the tools to incorporate metrics that evaluate sustainability across our courses … fewer chemicals, less water, less intensive maintenance, and lower costs,” explains McConnell Golf COO Christian Anastasiadis. “The ability to efficiently measure and monitor benchmarks has been missing in the golf industry for a long time. OnLink is filling this void for McConnell Golf.” 

Raleigh CC was McConnell Golf’s first OnLink user, and is now implemented on10 of the 13 courses with the remaining rolled out to all properties by the end of the year. These practices will be just as valuable at sister properties,especially when it comes to accommodating the unique ecological thumbprint and microclimate of each course.

“Our purpose for this program is consistency of course conditions and management of labor, materials and equipment across McConnell properties,” saysVP of Agronomy Michael Shoun. “OnLink helps us be better managers of our resources.”

This piece was first written and published in the McConnell Golf Magazine, Winter 2018